Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
From my sermon preached at Iglesia Presbiteriana Oaklawn (Oaklawn Presbyterian Church) and other places.
Sermon Outline (handed out in English and Spanish)
- Christ Delights to Show Mercy
- Jesus Attaches Conditions to His Mercy
- We Must Not Conceal Our Sins
- We Must Confess Our Sins to God
- We Must Renounce, Forsake, and Turn from Them
- Keep on Repenting and Believing on Christ to Receive His Mercy
Jesus Delights to Show Mercy
The true and living God of the Bible (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is the God of mercy. That’s the greatest news in the universe. God, through Christ His Son, shows pity, kindness, and love to unworthy sinners. Even when we deserve to be punished, God is compassionate and gracious. He is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Christ maintains love to thousands and forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin.1
God’s merciful heart moves Him to forgive us because of Jesus’ atoning death in our place. That’s what I need most and what ever man, woman, girl, and boy needs most today and every day. We need daily bread and daily forgiveness from the Lord. Micah 7:18,19 says that Jesus does not stay angry with us forever but He delights to show mercy. Praise God! He will have compassion on us again; He will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea again and again, not condemning, disowning, or rejecting us. But Christ does not automatically give out mercy to everyone. God has a way, a pattern, a formula for dispensing His mercy. That’s what Proverbs 28:13 teaches.
We Must Not Conceal Our Sins
It is impossible to hide from God. Proverbs 15:3 says: The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, watching everyone. Christ sees every single time we break His holy law. He knows all about our coveting eyes, our lying tongues, and our evil hearts. He knows all about our ingratitude and our arrogance toward Him. He hears every secret thought and feeling. He hears words we say in private. We cannot conceal anything from the Lord, beloved. Remember how foolish Adam and Eve were?2
Suppose our little child has chocolate all over their face. Or Mom’s lipstick. We ask-What did you do? And they say-Nothing. We laugh inwardly because it’s not such a big deal. But it is a big deal to try to fool the Lord. So let us not even try. We cannot deny our sin or rationalize it or blame others. Covering our sin hurts our spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being in this life. And it brings eternal torment in Hell for our body and soul unless we repent. Hiding from God is futile and fatal.
We Must Confess Our Sins
1 John 1:9 is well-known, but don’t forget that it is sandwiched between verses 8 and 10. Listen to all three verses together:
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make the Lord out to be a liar and His word is not in us.
John writes these words to Christian believers, to people who were already following Jesus in everyday life. Yet they still needed to confess their daily faults and failings to God, just like we do. The Bible requires us to confess to the Lord and to one another, not to a priest. The Seven Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Confession were written and put in the Bible for Jesus’ people to use.3 Many other prayers of confession are found through the Bible.4 We must admit our wrong to the Lord and to the people we hurt, but confession alone is not enough.
Christ says in Proverbs 28:13: We must renounce our sins, forsake, abandon, and quit them.
In John 8, Jesus forgives an adulterous woman and says: I do not condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.5 And God says the same to adulterous or fornicating men. Stop sleeping with people who are not your spouse. Stop flirting, touching, texting, staring, or coveting them. Christ says: Go now and leave your life of sin. With the Holy Spirit’s help we must run away from our wrongs and run back to following Christ. Jesus says: Turn from evil and do good.6 John the Baptist and Paul the Apostle teach the same.7
Remember the true story of Zacchaeus8 and the children’s song about him? Zacchaeus was happy to turn away from his selfishness and cheating people and his greedy heart, because the life of trusting and obeying Jesus is far more satisfying. The Holy Spirit shows us God’s mercy in Christ and makes us aware of our sinfulness. He helps us grieve over, and hate our sins, and re-turn to God. The Spirit changes us from inside out and helps us re-commit to following Jesus. He strengthens and empowers us to copy Christ.9
We must forsake our sins, beloved, or they will lead us to forsaking God.10 This is hard, so we need the Spirit’s help. If I ask the Lord for $1 million, I don’t think He will give it, because it’s selfish. But if I ask for His help to sin less and follow Jesus more, I know that He will help me, because it pleases God. This is praying according to God’s revealed will. We show that we love the Lord when we do what pleases Him. God is at work within us, helping us want to obey Him, and then helping us do what He commands.11
We Must Keep on Repenting and Believing on Christ
Listen to Proverbs 28:13 again: Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. The Lord promises: Mercy, mercy, mercy! One of the sweetest words in the Bible. No sins are too terrible or too ugly for our Heavenly Father to cleanse. Jesus is the perfect Savior. He obeyed God’s law in the place of His repenting people. And He suffered our penalty for sinning on the cross. Then He rose from the grave to give us new life that begins now. God is fully satisfied with Christ’s saving work. And God delights to show us tender kindness, deep love, compassion, grace, and peace. God gives full forgiveness and changed lives to all who come to Him through Jesus.
We deserve to go to Hell for our sins; I do and you do. But we keep on repenting and believing on Jesus to receive His mercy, not only at the start of our Christian life, but every day.12 The whole Christian life is a life of repentance until Jesus takes us home to Heaven.
Here is best news you will ever hear! Cheer up. You’re a lot worse sinner than you ever imagined, but in Christ, you are more loved by God than you ever have hoped for.13 What must you do to be saved? Trust and obey and follow the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.14
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Notes (various translations used): 1 Exod 34:6-7. 2 Gen 3:7f. 3 Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143. 4 e.g. Ezra chapter 9, Nehemiah chapter 9, and Daniel chapter 9. 5 John 8:10-11. 6 1 Peter 3:11. 7 Luke 3:8-14; Eph 4:25-29. 8 Luke 19:1-10. 9 see Westminster Shorter Catechism #87. 10 The need to forsake sin is taught throughout the Bible. See 2 Chron 7:14; Job 11:14; Isaiah 1:16-18; 55:7; 59:20; Jer 36:3; Ezek 18:21-22; 33:14-16; Matt 18:8,9; Eph 4:22; 1 Thes 1:9,10; Heb 12:1; 1 Pet 2:11, many more. 1 Peter 2:24 says: Christ Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls (quoting Isaiah 53). See also my teaching on Repentance and Mortification of Sin in Believers. 11 Phil 2:12,13. God the Holy Spirit gives us sanctifying power for changed lives. See Rom 6:1-7:6; 8:1-17; 14:17; 1 Cor 6:9-20; 2 Cor 3:18; Gal 5:13-26; Eph 5:18; 2 Tim 1:7; 1 Pet 1:2, many more. Christian sanctification comes to us in three phases: Initial (Regeneration), Ongoing (or Progressive), and Final Sanctification (Glorification). 12 Mark 1:15, note tenses in the Greek text. 13 C. John “Jack” Miller (1928–1996). 14 Matt 28:20; Luke 24:47; Acts 16:31.